2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Surrender, Resist: Language and Power in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions
Samantha R. Putthoff
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

The shifting world of women in colonial Zimbabwe is depicted in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions (1988). Tambudzai, the first-person narrator, raised with a firm sense of self and cultural identity, presents the tenuous balance between traditional and colonial cultures. The surrounding women demonstrate the connection between this balance and power; Nyasha shows the power lost in the blending of cultures, Maiguru shows the power lost in the blending of personalities. Tambudzai’s mother and grandmother demonstrate the limited power of women devoted to their culture, and Lucia demonstrates the covert power gained by using the patriarchal system. This essay will explore the ways in which Dangarembga’s characters present the roles of women in a colonial nation, where resistance is vital for the survival of the culture, and surrender is vital for the survival of the self. Dangarembga’s language of escape and entrapment reveals the “weight of womanhood” in a changing culture.

Keywords: Tsitsi Dangarembga, Africa, colonial, imperialism, power, feminism

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 8-4
Location: OP 2113
Time: 9:00 am

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